Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to highlight my support for a program that is improving life in Idaho and across the Nation--the Violence Against Women Act.
I appreciate joining my colleague Senator Leahy, who will be here on the floor in a few minutes, to formally open debate on this legislation, and hopefully we will be able to get this over the finish line this year, as it is so critical to so many people in this country.
For nearly two decades, the Violence Against Women Act has been the centerpiece of our Nation's commitment to ending domestic violence and dating and sexual violence. The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence uses vital funds, among many other things, to promote the awareness of healthy relationships in middle and high schools in Idaho. It is heartening to hear that the number of Idaho high school students reporting that they have experienced dating violence has dropped by 5 percent from 2007 to 2011. However, I am sad to report that since just January 1 of this year, four deaths have occurred in my State from the result of domestic violence. And even one is too many. These tragic events serve as a reminder that while we are improving, we are far from ending this terrible abuse.
I am a lifelong champion of the prevention of domestic violence because I believe that while we are improving, we can and will do better. I stand behind this act as it provides critical services to victims of violent crime as well as agencies and organizations that provide important aid to those who are often victims in their own homes. This legislation provides access to legal and social services for survivors. It provides training for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and advocates to address these crimes in our Nation's communities. It provides intervention for those who have witnessed abuse and are more likely to be involved in this type of violence. It provides shelter and resources for victims who have nowhere else to turn.
There is significant evidence that these programs are working not just in Idaho but nationwide. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that the number of women killed by an intimate partner decreased by 35 percent between 1993 and 2008. In 2012 it was reported that in 1 day alone, 688 women and their children impacted by violence sought safety in an emergency shelter or received counseling, legal advocacy, or children's support.
While we may not agree on all of the specifics of this reauthorization--and there are portions we will continue to negotiate on and to refine--we all do agree on one very important idea; that is, violence should not happen to anyone. This critical legislation is very effective in helping to address that abuse in our society.
As I said, there are parts of this legislation about which there are still concerns. I am committed, as is Senator Leahy, to working with those who have concerns to make the bill better and more workable so we can move it through to become law in this session of Congress. But after we debate and after we have worked and refined the legislation, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the authorization of this program and to continue the life-changing work this Chamber has been committed to for so many years.
I see my colleague Senator Leahy is on the Senate floor. I started a little before he got here. I know he is here to open the debate on this legislation. I again thank him for his work on this issue and look forward to working with him in this Congress as we move forward.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT